Liver Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 01/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with liver cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

This year, an estimated 42,230 adults (29,890 men and 12,340 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary liver cancer. Since 1980, the incidence of liver cancer has more than tripled. Between 2013 and 2017, incidence rates in women increased by approximately 2% annually while remaining steady in men. However, men are about 3 times more likely than women to be diagnosed with the disease.

It is estimated that 30,230 deaths (20,300 men and 9,930 women) from this disease will occur this year. For men, liver cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death. It is the seventh most common cause of cancer death among women. The overall liver cancer death rate has doubled since 1980. Between 2014 and 2018, the liver cancer death rate in women increased by 1% annually but remained steady in men.

When compared with the United States, liver cancer is much more common in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. In some countries, it is the most common cancer type.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The general 5-year survival rate is 20%, compared to just 3% 40 years ago. Survival rates depend on several factors, including the stage of the disease.

For the 44% of people who are diagnosed with liver cancer at an early stage, the 5-year survival rate is 34%. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 12%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 3%. However, even if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage, treatments are available to help many people with liver cancer experience a quality of life similar to that of before their diagnosis, at least for some time. If surgery is possible, that generally results in higher survival rates across all stages of the disease.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with liver cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society's (ACS) publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2021, and the ACS website (sources accessed January 2021).

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by liver cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.